06 July, 2008

RAK Incident

Workers at the Al Hamra development in RAK have rioted--7 Days report.

The short of it--it resulted from a dispute over food quality, it escalated way out of control, some workers became violent (read damaged property, burnt busses), hundreds (thousands?) have been arrested, shipped off to AD and Dubai, awaiting deportation.

  1. Does anyone know more about the incident--what happened, why?
  2. Does anyone know how one can find out where the arrested workers are being held, how they can be supported?


fiamma veneta said...

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DUBAI JAZZ said...

So many riots these days, heh?

rosh said...

Guess what - my brother had a rent hike of about 40 percent. Perhaps he should consider *burning* down the lovely villa with all his furniture, antique collection and paintings? Also with it - the lovely SHJ Co-op society stores we've had for decades - because they hiked prices of almost everything!
And let me throw in the shwarma outlets (yes breaks my heart) and salik gates.

Seriously, what's wrong with these people??? I can understand and sympathize with a peaceful demonstration. But when did tasteless food equate to violent riots and destructionof property??? How does this solve anything?

samuraisam said...

rosh: I'm not so sure tasteless food is the issue; as usual there is little information...
"Workers were not happy with the food and shouted at the camp boss for not providing them with proper food"
Not being happy with the food can be a number of things: quality, quantity, variety etc.

Anonymous said...

Sam, you may have a point, still, violence is not justified even when extremely frustrated.

if they went on a strike, the best case scenario would be empathy and a possibility of negotiation (I doubt that), or the worst case scenario the same as what happened, get deported.

What have they gained from what they did.

I wish laborours had clear instructions to who to go to to complain incase there is a problem, a heirarchy of people, so that the complaint doesn't stop at an unwilling person to help.

I wish.

secretdubai said...

Can you imagine working 12-14 hours a day, in the searing heat, for shitty pay that is only worth a fraction of what you expected due to broken promises and the plummeting dollar?

Then factor in that many of these men have compulsory deductions from their salaries towards food costs. Many could cook cheaper and better food themselves, or buy it from the more budget establishments that cater to laboureres. But no: they have to have the camp canteen.

So imagine being starving each day, knowing that far too much of your pay is going on this food, then the food is less tasty, less quantity, and less quality than you want. A decent meal must be all these guys have to look forward to all day. So yes, I can see how that might set them off. You only have to watch a series of Big Brother UK to know that the surefire way to get the housemates to meltdown is to reduce their food rations.

That said, I doubt food was the sole issue. Possibly it wasn't even an issue at all - and if it was, it would have essentially been the straw that broke the camel's back. The back of a very weary, overworked, underpaid, poorly treated camel.

Anonymous said...

construction workers are made to toil like slaves. not paid salaries for 3 - 6 months - yes even those pitiance levels are not paid. they are moreover charged for their visas sometimes more than what they would earn for the year! it's cheating galore...

Anonymous said...

Pittance, not pititance

Anonymous said...

SD as a G.P who sees alot of these workers for medical problems, I know first hand that they are happy to have a job, shitty money as you say is alot of money. They know about the "white people" concern regarding their status, they also know that job opportunities in "white people countries" are limited as they won't offer people with no education any kind of job. So to many this is a living opportunity and nobody is manipulated.

This said, those companies who hire them should treat them better and pay them on time as the stress of that delay is big, families (not one) are waiting for the money to be fed.

Riots and violence will never solve the problem so can't defend that.

The government should implement a system that is clea to both sides, the companies and the labours to make sure that both sides are protected and are fulfilling their responsibilities.

Mme Cyn said...

Their frustration is understandable, and these people simply don't have anyone to turn to who has the power ( or willingness)to help them, as Anon suggested they do. Unfortunately, a peaceful demonstration is very difficult to achieve. Once one person breaks the peace, the mob mentality takes over.

B.D. said...

One problem in this particular instance is that many who were arrested were apparently not involved in the riot.

What I have been told is that police were initially called in and calm was restored. Then once police left the agitators again went full-throttle and this is when buses were burnt and other acts of violence and vandalism committed. At the time of this second, larger melee, no security personnel showed up. With the damage done the agitators fled while everyone else turned in for the night. Come morning, a military force showed up and arrested those present at the camp en masse. This is what I have been told.

So, for me, the biggest concern is that most of those arrested were probably innocent and will likely not be afforded any due process. If they are in fact deported, many will have lost upaid wages, none will have the opportunity to return for work again, some will return home with debts taken out to get here unpaid, etc. Not to forget also the miserable time they will have waiting in jail until deportation is actually carried out.

Kyle said...


I totally agree/endorse with what you’ve written here in support of those laborers but still their taking the violent route is not the solution to their problems.

But then again, no one knows for sure what went down there that caused that rampage and free for all.

As always, the state-controlled press publishes some ridiculous reason while the real truth continues to evade the general public.

As much as I condemn the contractors, I equally condemn the UAE Authorities for not reigning in all those concerned with ensuring their workers well being. After all, it’s the contractors and the UAE Authorities that will eventually cash in on the project through their exploitation is a prostitute tactic instead of those laborers.

Moral of the story – a little kindness goes a long way.

But then again, one has to be human!

Anonymous said...

Food may not be the sole reason, and surely, violence not their first choice of complaint/protest. But when everthing fails and they have nothing to lose the frustration and hoplessness manifests as rage. Its human nature not necessarily found only in UAE labour. This is not the first such incidence leading one to believe that not much has been done to alleviate the plight of these folks.

rosh said...

I hear you SD, and totally agree with what Kyle has to say. I guess, one can develop all kinds of laws, human rights and dress 'em up all pretty. However, if there isn't enforcement (as well as ensuring wastafarians are shown the door) - laws remain pointless, unfortunately. In my opinion, valuing as well as enforcing equal rights, freedoms and voice for all, is perhaps the most critical aspect of any developing multi-racial society.

Kind of taken back with violent riots in RAK of all places....must have woken up those sleepy mountains.

samuraisam said...

anonymous @ 12:42: What have they gained? Probably a free ticket home. Whatever the amount they are paid (once you deduct accomodation fees and food fees and visa fees and etisalat fees) wait a few years and see how the situation develops, I'll be surprised to see if the UAE can remain attractive to foreigners with its current attitude/salaries for labourers (and keep in mind places like Dubai are going to be nowhere near complete in 10 years)

When people stop lining up to come here, there shouldn't be any need to ask why.

Anonymous said...

oh Sam, people will always need jobs, and an offer is better than no offer.

Exploiting peoples misfortunes is not right, but that is how we all funcion,some are more discrete about it, some sugar coat it, some just do it right in ur face.

Alot of the people who come here, come to exploit that very same thing, cheap workers, hell they go to india, nepal etc etc and make them work like slaves for few bucks, you might be wearing a nice cheapish t-shirt right now that is been paid by an underpaid, poor hungry uderage boy or girl. We all like a good bargain don't we? we pay and feel good.

What is the difference?

people stop acting so moral when you are not really..

Anonymous said...

more here i guess...


time to stop constructing concrete blocks for peanuts and sell them for millions...

Anonymous said...



join them together

B.D. said...

Try this click on link.

On speaking with workers there it does not seem there was any air of mass resentment over conditions. What is more likely is that this resulted from an escalated brawl among intoxicated workers. There is a large liquor shop in proximity to the living and work sites, where free access is allowed to laborers. Laborers were frequent patrons and during cooler months could be seen scattered around the sand dunes enjoying their drinks.

I'm not defending what are surely poor working and living conditions, but would suggest that this was not the direct reason for the "uprise."

Anonymous said...


Proud Emirati said...

they were drunk, had a fight with the cheif cook and then went crazy, not very civilized to me !

Anonymous said...

i dont think there is any problem in the quality of the food but small small frustrations on a daily basis came into a big explotion on a friday with absent minded after having weekly drink with friends and some small issues in the canteen taken as a prestigious issue by people who knows "unity is strength" attacked each other and reached in a riot.

B.D. said...

Speculation? (Anoynymous, above), or were you there or know someone who was?

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